Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect PlayPennsylvania’s position.
The City of Philadelphia announced last week it reinstated the indoor mask mandate, which became effective on Monday, April 18. Philadelphia is the only city in the country to be under any type of mask mandate.
Places such as the Wells Fargo Center are expected to adhere to the old, but new, guidelines in place…but are they?
Wells Fargo Center’s lack of enforcement
Monday night’s Game 2 between the Toronto Raptors and Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center was the first large public event under the newly ordered indoor mask mandate. A packed crowd, on national TV – the entire sports world was able to see the Philadelphia faithful up close.
When watching on TV, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the city was under a mask mandate. Any shot of the crowd, there were far more maskless people than masked.
PlayPennsylvania’s Corey Sharp attended the game as a spectator. Here’s his account of what happened.
Upon arrival, the security guards at the metal detectors sternly shouted, “You cannot get in without a mask,” and they were handing out masks for those who did not have one. To Sixers fans’ credit, they did not fuss over it.
After clearing security, fans immediately took them off. I was one of them to see if anyone would challenge me. Not a single Wells Fargo Center employee or fan even gave me a funny look the rest of the game.
Wells Fargo Center employees wore their masks, although some wore them correctly and some didn’t.
Even at my seats, most fans did not wear them, nor did they ask any fan or Wells Fargo Center employee to enforce the rule. Two fans to my left wore theirs and did not ask me to wear mine.
About 90 percent of fans did not wear a mask. Life went on as if there was no mask mandate in place.
What must other Philly businesses think of lack of mask enforcement?
The following is by Katie Kohler, PlayPennsylvania managing editor and lead writer.
Corey Sharp is the new lead writer for PlayPennsylvania. He went to the Sixers game and didn’t wear a mask. And anyone that tells you that they did wear one is likely lying, M. Night Shyamalan or this guy…
Sixers fan was just told his “plague mask” was not an appropriate face covering for the NBA playoff game @WellsFargoCtr. He told me “if they’re going to treat me like a clown I’m going to act like a clown” #maskmandate @FOX29philly @NBA pic.twitter.com/3gMDR7D2Kj
— Chris O'Connell (@CoconnellFox29) April 18, 2022
I’ve been writing about COVID, casino closures, sports shutdowns and since March 2020. Vaccinations are widely available, so are boosters, masks, and free will to stay at home if you aren’t comfortable with going back out into the world.
Philadelphia is the only major city to reinstate its mask mandate and on national TV on Tuesday night during Game 2, it seemed like only a few people were wearing masks at the Wells Fargo Center.
Before the trolls peg me as mask police and tell me to “cry harder,” know that I’m not trying to tattletale on 20,000 people.
It’s simply not fair to ask security at the Wells Fargo Center to monitor mask-wearing for a full arena for four quarters. They’re getting paid an average of $37,993 per year, Much less than Joel Embiid, Josh Harris, and Daryl Morey. It’s simply impossible to require staff to play a game of mask Whac-A-Mole with fans who are so over mandates.
Wells Fargo center employees aren’t the only ones who should be crying foul over mandate enforcement. When Philadelphia small business owners tuned into the Sixers vs. Raptors game last night, how must they have felt? How about the management and employees at the two Philadelphia casinos, Live! Philadelphia and Rivers?
Not fair to Philadelphia casinos
Since they are in the city, Live! and Rivers Casino are subject to the city’s rules. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, their response has been a standard “we are following guidelines established by the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health.”
And since March of 2020, the pair of Philadelphia casinos have. Even though that has meant being closed longer than casinos in the rest of the state, not serving food and drinks on the floor for months, and not allowing smoking. In a highly competitive gambling market like the Greater Philadelphia area, these restrictions have a big impact.
Customers can choose to:
It doesn’t just have consequences for the casinos, but it has larger tax implications. Slot revenue for the two casinos is taxed at 50% and tables games at 16%.
Rivers Casino GM on new mask mandate
After seeing a packed Wells Fargo Center with nearly no mask enforcement, what are casino execs thinking? During the mask mandate in December and January, Rivers Casino general manager Justin Moore said business dropped 30%. In a recent interview with Casino Update host Tino Maganatta, Moore spoke about the most recent mandate and how it impacts the casino.
“It’s like we were on a 15-0 run and the coach decided to call timeout. It’s one of those things where we’re running and then there was the timeout. We are optimistic it will not last too long. We are keeping an eye on the numbers with the city.
“It’s a hindrance at this time. It’s difficult as a leader to ask the team to put the masks back on. Some people are fine with it and it’s okay. The biggest challenge is, when you force this policy on the public, some people lose their mind. It puts our team in a bad spot sometimes. That’s the hardest part. It’s been rough.”
It’s been a lot of fun watching the Sixers take a 2-0 series lead against the Raptors. It’s a complete joy watching Tyrese Maxey turn into a star. However, for the small businesses and big businesses in Philadelphia, last night had to be hard to watch after they have tried so hard to follow the rules for over two years. If I were an exec at Rivers or Live! it’s a safe bet I’d be getting on the phone with city and state leaders demanding some answers and action.
Wells Fargo Center responds to complaints
On April 20, David Malandra, a reporter at Philly Sports Network, asked the Philadelphia Department of Health about the lack of mask-wearing at the Wells Fargo Center during Game 2.
I asked #Philadelphia Department of Health regarding the fans at the #Sixers playoff game on Monday at Wells Fargo Center that were not wearing masks as the mask mandate went back into effect#COVID19 #PhilaUnite #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/BVaX7bcGZ5
— David Malandra Jr (@DaveMReports) April 20, 2022
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Matt Slocum